Plants - Trees and Shrubs

Junipers revisited

Hardy and handsome, these modern cultivars are a far cry from those old foundation-plant horrors

Gold Star juniper (J. chinensis ‘Bakaurea’)
An improvement over the older golden Chinese junipers such as ‘Pfitzeriana Aurea’ and ‘Old Gold’, Gold Star has brilliant yellow new growth that rivals any golden conifer on the market. Spreading in habit, it will reach 1.2 metres tall and about two metres wide. Useful for foundation plantings, banks and slopes, it also contrasts beautifully with blue-foliaged plants. Good resistance to root diseases, which can plague some juniper varieties. Zone 3

Blueberry Delight juniper (J. communis var. depressa ‘AmiDak’)
Selected by North Dakota State University from a wild population growing in that state’s badlands, Blueberry Delight was developed for its decorative berries. Its habit is relatively low and creeping, with a height of 30 to 45 centimetres and spread of about two metres. The foliage is dark green with silvery blue highlights, but the heavy crop of silvery blue berries is its main claim to fame. Planting a second Blueberry Delight or another common juniper cultivar nearby will help maximize berry production. Use in foundation plantings and rockeries, or as a groundcover. Zone 3 (Zone 2 with reliable snow cover)

‘Limeglow’ juniper (J. horizontalis ‘Limeglow’)
This variety was a branch sport on the cultivar ‘Youngstown’. Its feathery, scale-like new foliage emerges bright chartreuse—a colour that persists throughout the growing season, turning a golden copper in winter. ‘Limeglow’ has a compact, vase-shaped form and reaches about 30 centimetres tall with a spread of 1.5 metres. A lovely specimen for the front garden or in a large rockery; very disease resistant and tolerant of hot, dry conditions. Zone 4

Icee Blue juniper (J. h. ‘Monber’)
A rising star, Icee Blue is superseding the standard blue creeping junipers such as ‘Wiltonii’ and ‘Prince of Wales’. Unlike those old cultivars that turn purplish in winter and can be somewhat thin in habit, Icee Blue stays dense and retains its bright silvery blue colour year-round. This juniper will never exceed a few centimetres in height, but will spread up to two metres. Excellent used as a groundcover, creeping around rocks in an alpine garden, cascading over a retaining wall or draping over a slope; tolerant of heat and exposed sites. Zone 3 (Zone 2 with reliable snow cover)

‘Blue Forest’ juniper (J. sabina ‘Blue Forest’)
Unique hardly describes this cultivar—the form is creeping, but side branchlets are upright, lending the plant, with its blue-green foliage, the appearance of a miniature forest. Each “miniature tree” can reach 30 to 45 centimetres tall with an overall plant spread of 1.5 to two metres. Position this selection where it can be viewed at close quarters. Zone 4

Moor-Dense juniper (J. s. ‘Monard’)
This savin juniper, developed by Monrovia Nursery of California, is an improvement over the older standard ‘Broadmoor’. With deep green foliage, Moor-Dense branches more evenly and, as its name suggests, is a denser form. Plants reach just 20 to 30 centimetres tall with a spread of about two metres. Excellent used as a groundcover along retaining walls, in foundation plantings or on slopes; superior resistance to juniper blight. Zone 3

‘Blue Arrow’ juniper (J. virginiana ‘Blue Arrow’)
When travelling in the Mediterranean, gardeners can’t help but admire the stately though tender Italian cypresses with their tall, narrow form. What alternative can we grow in our cold Canadian gardens? Until recently, ‘Skyrocket’ was the main choice, but now we have ‘Blue Arrow’, an improved cultivar with lovely, steely blue foliage developed by Pine Grove Nurseries in Pennsylvania. Requiring little pruning, ‘Blue Arrow’ can reach four to five metres tall but will rarely exceed one metre in width, making it ideal for formal gardens and those with limited space. Planted in a row, this cultivar makes a fine living privacy screen or backdrop for perennial or shrub borders. Zone 4 (Zone 3 in a sheltered location) 

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